Giovanni de' Vecchi (Biographical details)

Giovanni de' Vecchi (Italian; Male; 1536 - 1615)

Also known as

Vecchi, Giovanni de'

Biography

Painter. Giovanni Liso de' Vecchi, b. Borgo S. Sepolcro (Baglione) c. 1537, d. Rome 13 Apr. 1615 (Noack in Thieme-Becker). Baglione says "Morì vecchio di 78 anni nel 1614".
According to Celio, he worked alongside N. Circignani (q.v.) in Vatican Belvedere (Museo Etrusco, Sala III: frieze of eight scenes from history of Nebuchadnezzar), where Santi di Tito also worked (payments 1562 and 1564: see Ackerman, docs. 152, 158); Celio does not define G.d. V.'s share clearly and we cannot distinguish his hand. G.d. V. is perhaps to be identified with the 'Giovanni dal Borgo' who was working in the Villa d'Este in 1568 (Pacifici, p. 391), but his contribution equally remains to be identified. In considering the early work of G.d.V. we must take into account a painting of the 'Baptism of Christ', sold Robinson & Fisher, 7 May 1931, lot 190, which according to the annotation on the photograph in the Witt Library was signed "G. de Vecchi" and dated 1566. The annotation refers to a pendant, of the 'Baptist Preaching', sold Sotheby's, 7 Dec. 1932, lot 21, giving the signature as "G.V." and the date as "1506" [sic]. There is no mention of signature or date in the Sotheby catalogue but the measurements are given as 16 1/2 X 28 in. This second picture seems to be the one exhibited at the Brian Koetser Gallery in 1966 (repr. Apollo, lxxxiii (1966), p. 215), of almost the same dimensions (17 X 28 1/2 in.), which in our opinion conforms exactly in style with the 'Baptism'. The signature is there given as "G.P." (interpreted as Gerrit Pietersz. Swellinck) and the date as 1606, but the "V" of the signature, as transcribed on the mount of the Witt photograph, has a pronounced loop and could be read as a "P".
7 Aug. 1570, G.d.V. elected to Accademia di S. Luca (Noack); 'Principe' in 1596 (Missirini, p. 68). 1578, member of Virtuosi al Pantheon (Noack). S. M. in Aracoeli, paintings described by Baglione include: 3rd chapel on r., decoration completed 1573 (see Forcella, i, p. 185, no. 707): four landscapes with St Jerome on vault; much damaged altarpiece of 'Penitent Jerome' at present covered by a nineteenth-century painting, but replica in Roman private collection (see Pinelli, pp. 49ff, figs. 1-6); 'Procession of St Gregory', oil-painting on r.-hand pilaster at end of nave (idem, fig. 13); lunettes of 'Passion' on canvas formerly in sacristy, said by Casimiro (1734) to be dispersed; 7th chapel on r., altarpiece, 'Miracle of S. Diego', between 1597 and 1610 (Casimiro, p. 87). S. Eligio degli Orefici, altar on l., 'Adoration of Shepherds', contract 21 Apr. 1574, final payment 3 Oct. 1575 (S. Eligio archives). Caprarola (Baglione): his hand can be seen in Sala del Mappamondo and Sala degli Angeli (inscribed 1574, 1575 respectively, but Partridge, 'Art Bulletin', liv (1972), p. 60, n. 160, cites documentary evidence that the painting of both continued at least into 1576). The vault of Sala degli Angeli, which has been attributed to G.d.V. reveals a different style, as does the drawn 'modello' (Albertina, Cat. vi, no. 43, as Aretusi). Oratorio del Crocifisso: initially commissioned to paint whole fresco cycle of 'Legend of the Cross', 11 July 1578 (Kirwin, pp. 349f., 470f), but in the event his activity was confined to the altar end of the r.-hand wall. His first scene, 'St Helen instigating the Search for the Cross', did not satisfy Cardinal Farnese or the Confraternity (ibid.) and he was dismissed, though not before painting 'Invention of the Cross' in centre of wall and 'Prophet' and 'Sibyl' to l. of first scene, 'Prophet' between the scenes and pairs of allegorical figures above both (all repr. Roli). Part of study for 'Invention' in Uffizi (7384F; Roli, fig. 138c). Last recorded payment, 28 May 1582. Gesù: cupola and pendentives with four Latin Doctors (Baglione) begun Jan. 1583 (Hibbard, 'Gesù', p. 33, n. 18), replaced 1672 onwards by Gaulli. Two pendentives, with Gregory and Ambrose (or Augustine), can be seen in Sacchi's 'Urban VIII visiting the Gesù in 1639' (Galleria Nazionale: A.S. Harris, 'Andrea Sacchi' (1977), pl. 130). According to Celio (p. 40), the pendentives were painted by G.d.V. himself and the cupola on his design. S. Lorenzo in Damaso, fresco on entrance wall, lost, 'Martyrdom of St Lawrence', probably c. 1588-9 (Abromson, p. 28, n. 98). Drawings of this subject (see Roli, figs. 142c, d; Gere, 'Manierismo', fig. 42). What may be a copy of the lost original, on alabaster, sold Sotheby Parke-Bernet, N.Y., 7 June 1978, lot no. 142, size 6 3/4 x 8 3/4 in. (photo BM). S. Pietro in Montorio, 1st chapel on l., frescoes: 'St Francis receiving the Stigmata', 'Funeral of Cardinal Dolera' (in semi-dome), 'Virtues' above arch (all repr. Roli and Pinelli), presumably 1594, the only year in which the Confraternity of the Sacre Stigmata used the chapel (Pesci-Lavagnino, 'S. Pietro in Montorio', Rome, n.d., p. 1 3). S. Prassede, sacristy, 'Deposition', originally 2nd chapel on r., built 1595 (Tani). For drawings, see 'Italian 16th-Century Drawings from British Private Collections', exh. Edinburgh, 1969, under no. 90. St Peter's: cartoons or mosaics of 'St John' and 'St Luke' in pendentives of cupola (cf. biographies Nebbia, Roncalli), payments June 1598 to Nov. 1599 (Kirwin, p. 410; Abromson, p. 82, n. 113); drawing for 'St John' (Gere, 'Manierismo', fig. 40). S. M. Scala Coeli, cartoon for apse mosaic, 'Virgin and Child with Saints' (Roli, fig. 143a; cf. Pinelli, n. 20, fig. 37), interim payment 2 March 1598 (Abromson, p. 353); payments for altarpiece, 'Vision of St Bernard', Dec. 1592 to Sept. 1593 (ibid.). S. Andrea della Valle, 3rd chapel on l., altarpiece of 'St Sebastian', datable c. 1614 (Roli, fig. 143c; drawing Uffizi 13960F, Pinelli, fig. 42); Sacristy, 'Christ on Cross with Virgin and St John' (drawing, Uffizi, 7372F). S. M. sopra Minerva, chapel to r. of cappella maggiore, frescoes of life of St Catherine of Siena on side walls (Baglione); drawings, Popham, 'Windsor', no. 677, not repr.; Uffizi 7367F and 7370F. Façade, Via dei Banchi Vecchi, with 'David playing Harp to Saul', lost (Baglione; Mancini, i, pp. 280, 312). S. Paolo fuori le Mura, 'quadro' of 'St Benedict' (Baglione), lost; engraving Callot (Lieure, i, fig. 45). Addenda and corrigenda to drawings: Roli wrongly rejects: 'Count Godfrey of Bouillon in Council' (Uffizi 7253s) and 'Beheading of Baptist' (Uffizi 7359F), whereas 'St Peter healing the Lame Man' (Uffizi 7379F, his fig. 137c) is a typical Baglione. 'Adoration of Magi', Pierpont Morgan Library (iv, pl. 190, as Salimbeni) and 'Pope blessing Crowd', Windsor (Popham no. 679, as Passignano) are both by G.d.V.

Bibliography

Gere & Pouncey 1983
Thieme-Becker (1940) with previous bibliography; R. Roli, 'Giovanni de' Vecchi', I and II, Arte Antica e Moderna (1965), pp. 45ff. and pp. 324ff., with reprs.; M. Pouncey, 'Design for an Apse by Giovanni de' Vecchi', MD, vi (1968), 3, pp. 251ff.; J. Bean, Review of 'National Gallery of Scotland: Catalogue of Italian Drawings', MD, vii (1969), 1, pp. 55ff.; A. Pinelli, 'Pittura e Controriforma. "Convenienza" e misticismo in Giovanni de' Vecchi: note e schede' in Ricerche di storia dell'arte, 6 (1977), pp. 49ff.